Lunchtime Seminar Series with Professor Joel Eigen, Franklin and Marshall
9 April 2009
Seminar Title Diagnosing Homicide: Forensic Psychiatry and the Purposeless Murder
Late Victorian forensic psychiatric testimony reveals the emergence of a category of mental derangement exquisitely suited to the common law.
Beyond being driven to sudden, inexplicable violence, the defendant afflicted with homicidal mania was left with a "morbid impulse to kill", "an impulse to destroy those most dear", and "a tendency to crime". To legitimate their claims to having discovered a new and fatefully consequential species of madness, prison surgeons and prison medical officers quoted contemporary medical literature directly in their courtroom testimony; enterprising defence attorneys cited the same texts in framing their questions to examine these witnesses. The eventual acceptance of a form of madness that conspicuously avoided the court's preferred grounds for inferring insanity - intellectual derangement - invites inquiry into the reasons for its popularity in medical testimony.
"Diagnosing Homicide: Forensic Psychiatry and the Purposeless Murder" will consider how this innovative diagnosis incorporated a host of traditional and well accepted courtroom terms. The changing professional origins of medical witnesses who proffered this innovative diagnosis will also be considered.
Dr Joel Eigen is a Professor of Sociology at Franklin & Marshall College, Pennsylvania.
He is a leading scholar in his field and his innovative and interdisciplinary research is at the forefront of contemporary scholarship on criminal responsibility. Professor Eigen's research interests include mental derangement and criminal responsibility, juvenile justice and discretion and capital punishment and race. He has researched and taught across these areas.
His research will be of interest to those members of Faculty working in the area of criminal law, medical law and legal history.
Time: Light lunch 12:30pm - 1:00pm; Seminar 1:00pm - 2.00pm
Contact: Events Coordinator
Phone: 9351 0238